Jeff Bezos
Mayukh Saha
Mayukh Saha
December 20, 2023 ·  5 min read

Viral Thread Busts The Myth About Famous Billionaires Starting Out “Poor”

Who doesn’t like an inspirational story of an underdog who, through sheer will, hard work, and a dream, ends up being a billionaire? Of course, the majority of such stories exist in fiction. But there are loads of billionaires out there who claim that their lives were just like this. They claim that they are who they are now solely because they worked harder than everyone else and had some flashes of inspiration.

You will be surprised to know that a lot of these “real-life” stories actually leave out very significant details. These details are particularly important because they are all about the connections that were already available in their lives. The list of names of billionaires who have intentionally or unintentionally left out such details includes very big ones (for example, Warren Buffet).

Aidan Smith thus made a thread on Twitter where he gave the full story of some of the biggest billionaires. In an interview with Bored Panda[1], he said that Americans are among the most gullible people when it comes to believing such rags-to-riches billionaire stories. However, it is usually an illusion. Moving between the working class and the middle class has become increasingly difficult.

As such, he gave it his best shot to break this “comforting illusion” and make people see the truth – 50% of the wealth of the world belongs to not more than a handful.

The Best Billionaires Started Small – Or Did They?

The first billionaire that Aidan mentions in the thread is also one of the most famous[2]. It is none other than Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. You will often hear that Amazon was started in a small office back in 1994. Although that is true, Aidan revealed that Jeff’s parents had pumped in over $245,000 by 1995 to keep the company operational. That is a lot of money that Bezos never had to repay for a small start-up back in 1994.

After that, he picked on Bill Gates. Every documentary about his life describes him as an average guy with an above-average IQ who quit college and took a gamble. However, there is one “small” point that Aidan adds to the story. Gates’ mother Mary Gates was United Way’s president. She had a major part in convincing IBM to fund Microsoft to develop an operating system. This was the career break that was the turning point for Microsoft.

Viral Thread Busts The Myth About Famous Billionaires Starting Out "Poor"
Image Credit: Aidan Smith | Twitter
Viral Thread Busts The Myth About Famous Billionaires Starting Out "Poor"
Image Credit: Aidan Smith | Twitter

Next up is Warren Buffet. He was not just an average middle-class citizen who had a special interest in investment. His father, Howard Homan Buffet, was Nebraska’s Republican Representative for 4 terms. So, a pretty powerful person. Additionally, one of Warren’s first investments was a business that his father owned.

Credits: Pinterest. Warren Buffet (12) on the far-left. Howard, his father, beside him.

Next up, Mark Zuckerberg and the elite education that he received thanks to his parents. He studied at Phillips Exeter Academy where the tuition, including boarding, is nearly $57,000. And, his parents also hired David Newman, the software developer, to tutor him privately before entering college. How many can even dream of getting such services?

Just to make it clear, as Aidan repeatedly says, that these posts are not denying the absolute geniuses that these people are. It is not their fault that they were born into such families. It is to their credit that they made full use of the resources they had at hand. But, these resources should be accounted for.

So are there any true rags-to-riches stories? Of course there are!

Read: America’s Biggest Owner Of Farmland Is Now Bill Gates

That Does Not Mean Miracles Don’t Happen

The thread might make you feel down and blame your poor finances for the lack of chances in life. But, that is not always the case. There are loads of billionaires and millionaires who have truly reached the top using only their talents.

Credits: Pamela Littky/Variety

Oprah Winfrey

Among the more popular billionaires is Oprah Winfrey[3]. Her childhood was incredibly tough. She was the victim of molestation by multiple family members. But eventually, she became the host for one of the best TV shows which were her path to billions.

Howard Schutlz

There is also Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ CEO. His childhood homes were public housing projects, and his family had just enough to get by. But the man’s efforts at Starbucks propelled him to where he is today.

Ken Langone

Next up, we have one of the founders of Home Depot – Ken Langone. He belonged to a truly working-class family. His mother worked at a cafeteria while his father worked as a plumber.

Ralph Lauren

Then we have Ralph Lauren, the owner of the fashion company Ralph Lauren Corporation. Once upon a time, he was a mere clerk at Boor Brothers.

Larry Ellison

Finally, we have the tech giant Oracle’s founder Larry Ellison. His mother was unwed and listed him for adoption. He also had pneumonia when he was only 9 months old. Times were tough even in the family that adopted him. During the Great Depression, his adoptive father lost a fortune. He had to quit college and work numerous odd jobs. Finally, he created Oracle and became one of the world’s biggest billionaires.

So, it is not the end of the world, if your life is tough and you do not have the high and mighty connections. Just because life is unfair doesn’t mean miracles don’t happen. But it is extremely important to know which billionaire actually did start from nothing, and who didn’t.

Keep Reading: Billionaire promised to die ‘broke.’ $8 billion dollars later, the world is a better place for it.


  1. Viral Thread Busts The Myth About Famous Billionaires Starting Out “Poor”.” Bored Panda. Jonas Grinevičius and Justinas Keturka
  2. Twitter